I’m the great-niece of men who served in WWII and Korea. The daughter and daughter-in-law of men who served in Vietnam. I’m the cousin to several who served around the world. I’m the co-worker to those who’ve had loved ones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. I hold so much respect and admiration for our veterans and their families. I will never know or fully understand all that they go through so the least I can do is honor them. Which brings me to today, Veteran’s Day. Today, I’m happy to be able to salute a veteran who has taken a rough return to civilian life and healed through the unexpected power of creating children’s music.
Derek McGee, one of the founders of the band Funkinships, served two tours in Iraq. After that much time living a high tension way of life, returning back home proved to be difficult. So Derek quit his Wall Street job and took a job that allowed him to live and work aboard the Mystic Whaler on the Hudson River, where he taught environmental education to children. It was during his time on the Mystic Whaler that he met musician Charlie Chamberlain and Funkinships was born.
Along with a band of merry music makers, they created their first album, Post Folk Absurdist. This album is filled with fun, wacky, weird songs that will tickle careful listeners. The genres of music switch back and forth and blend throughout the songs, preventing the overall sound from being defined. At first listen, the songs may feel disconnected because of the lack of melodic cohesiveness, but it is in the lyrics where the glue of the album becomes evident. It’s in those words that children will learn that it’s ok if you’re a little weird or different, and who cares what others think. The song titles alone, like “The Platypus and Steve Buscemi,” “Chicken Flap Fly” and “Nightmare on the Kids Menu” will draw children and adults in to find out, “what’s that all about?”
McGee has said of his introduction to creating music, “I had finally stumbled upon the thing missing from my life. I realized that much of the restlessness and angst I felt after returning home from war was a result of being a man without a band.” Well, Derek, I’m glad you found that band. Thank you for your service and for making music that kids will find comfort and joy in.